Matthew Lester: Vote out political bullies – somethings gotta change

Tax expert Matthew Lester puts on his political hat after attending a presentation from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. He was impressed that Madonsela didn’t mention Nkandla once, yet one could still hear a pin drop in the audience. Off the back of it all he says maybe, just maybe, there’s a political revolution on the go. He calls on the citizenry to stand up and vote out the bullies because all the country needs is some order. Regardless of dismal economic growth, the declining Rand and the fact that this festive season has been downgraded to a bring and braai, the money is there. All that’s needed is an automated system to track tax evaders and root out corruption. The coffers gained will be more than enough. Sounds simple, only challenge is current leadership is so engrossed in it all, it’s time the power of X brings about change. If it’s not Nkandla, then it’s Hitachi, and even then we are only scratching the surface. – Stuart Lowman

Supporters of South Africa's ruling ANC party cheer as South Africa's President and party leader Jacob Zuma (not seen) arrives for the launch of the party's election manifesto at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Ihsaan Haffejee (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

by Matthew Lester

Few can see much light at the end of the tunnel these days. Economic growth rates are dismal. Add to this the collapse of commodity prices, tax increases and the steady decline of the Rand and, lets face it, Christmas 2015 has already been reduced to a bring and braai. Some even wish they had packed for Perth when they had the chance

Maybe, just maybe, we are sleeping through a revolution in politics. And perhaps meaningful change could be closer than we think.

Lets start with the USA. They are comfortable with the Obama elegance. If he could stand for a third term it wouldn’t be much of a contest.

Last Friday evening I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela at the Rhodes Business School. I suspect most of the crowd of 350 were expecting sensational stuff about Nkandla. The subject didn’t feature. But nobody went home disappointed.

Read also: Nkandla-blind ANC MPs bully Public Protector Madonsela in Parliament

Thuli Madonsela is soft spoken. The arrogance and aggression inherent in today’s politics doesn’t feature. But you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium right up until the standing ovation at the end. Throughout the performance I was thinking, “ South Africa’s members of parliament should be ashamed of themselves. They have turned parliamentary debate into a poor form of Aussie cricket sledging.”

Just a few weeks ago few had even heard of Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody thought he stood a chance of leading the UK labour party. Some say he doesn’t even want the job. Others thought he wouldn’t last one round with David Cameron in Prime Minister’s question hour. But he did.

Corbyn is a modest man. Churchill would have dismissed him with the famous lines ‘he has much to be modest about.’ But Cameron’s yuppie arrogance is suddenly right out of place and things are different. There’s no answer to this tactic. Gandhi proved this when he came up with passive resistance.

The people are sick and bored of being bullied by politicians. This is confirmed in the polls.

Read also: Meet new Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn, Malema’s UK brother from another mother

Oh yes, I am supposed to write about tax. Well Corbyn did make a bit if a howler by estimating there is 120 billion pounds to be found in the UK attacking base erosion and profit shifting in the UK. He even attacked Vodaphone who haven’t even be accused along with the likes of google and starbucks. ‘Oops’ say the critics. But the masses liked it! Why? Because over the last 10 years the tax burden has been shifting away from corporates and onto individuals.

Imagine if RSA could get on top of tax evasion and corruption. There would be plenty all round, enough to achieve the objectives of the NDP, even with lousy growth rates. But will this ever happen?

Tax evasion and corruption are not going to be exposed by inspectors with pencils. But with the imaginative use of computer systems and risk profiling are another matter. The work on this is ongoing. It can and will be done if politicians get behind the process.

So the challenge is actually with the people. If they are going to continue to be politically bullied there is little light at the end of the tunnel. But that tactic is loosing ground. Vote them out and that’s another story.